accented speech

Revisiting the Relationship Between Implicit Racial Bias and Audiovisual Benefit for Nonnative-Accented Speech

Speech intelligibility is improved when the listener can see the talker in addition to hearing their voice. Notably, though, previous work has suggested that this “audiovisual benefit” for nonnative (i.e., foreign-accented) speech is smaller than the benefit for native speech, an effect that may be partially accounted for by listeners’ implicit racial biases (Yi et al., 2013, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 134[5], EL387–EL393.). In the present study, we sought to replicate these find- ings in a significantly larger sample of online participants. In a direct replication of Yi et al. (Experiment 1), we found that audiovisual benefit was indeed smaller for nonnative-accented relative to native-accented speech. However, our results did not support the conclusion that implicit racial biases, as measured with two types of implicit association tasks, were related to these differences in audiovisual benefit for native and nonnative speech. In a second experiment, we addressed a potential confound in the experimental design; to ensure that the difference in audiovisual benefit was caused by a difference in accent rather than a difference in overall intelligibility, we reversed the overall difficulty of each accent condition by presenting them at different signal-to-noise ratios. Even when native speech was presented at a much more difficult intelligibility level than nonnative speech, audiovisual benefit for nonnative speech remained poorer. In light of these findings, we discuss alternative explanations of reduced audiovisual benefit for nonnative speech, as well as methodological considerations for future work examining the intersection of social, cognitive, and linguistic processes.

Rapid Adaptation to Fully Intelligible Nonnative-Accented Speech Reduces Listening Effort

In noisy settings or when listening to an unfamiliar talker or accent, it can be difficult to understand spoken language. This difficulty typically results in reductions in speech intelligibility, but may also increase the effort necessary to process the speech even when intelligibility is unaffected. In this study, we used a dual-task paradigm and pupillometry to assess the cognitive costs associated with processing fully intelligible accented speech, predicting that rapid perceptual adaptation to an accent would result in decreased listening effort over time. The behavioural and physiological paradigms provided converging evidence that listeners expend greater effort when processing nonnative- relative to native-accented speech, and both experiments also revealed an overall reduction in listening effort over the course of the experiment. Only the pupillometry experiment, however, revealed greater adaptation to nonnative- relative to native-accented speech. An exploratory analysis of the dual-task data that attempted to minimise practice effects revealed weak evidence for greater adaptation to the nonnative accent. These results suggest that even when speech is fully intelligible, resolving deviations between the acoustic input and stored lexical representations incurs a processing cost, and adaptation may attenuate this cost.